Local Hiring Ban Passes House Committee Along Partisan Lines
Bill could hurt minority communities, jeopardize Ohio jobs

Democratic lawmakers expressed their disappointment Tuesday with the committee passage of legislation that prohibits cities and other municipalities from setting local hiring requirements for public works projects. The measure, which initially turned up in a rewrite to the state’s transportation budget last month before being nixed by the Ohio Senate and House, was reported from the House Commerce and Labor Committee this afternoon along partisan lines.

“Local hiring requirements are one way in which communities can open the door to employment for their residents. Prohibiting cities from setting hiring requirements slams the door shut in the faces of Ohio workers.” said Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan, ranking minority member on the committee.

Some Ohio communities use local hiring quotas on publicly financed projects as a way to strengthen local workforce participation and, in turn, strengthen local economies. Urban areas typically have higher unemployment rates than the national average, making the decision to hire local even more impactful for improving the job market in urban areas.

“We need to remain focused on strengthening our middle class by connecting hard-working Ohioans with good-paying jobs,” added Rep. Stephanie Howse. “Residency requirements give qualified workers the opportunity to find rewarding employment in their own communities. HB 180 will deny them this opportunity and threaten the health of our local economy.”

Tuesday’s passage comes as Cleveland begins work on the $331 million Opportunity Corridor and the City of Akron undertakes $1.4 billion worth of updates to its sewer system.

“Cities like Akron use local hiring requirements to put unemployed residents back to work,” said Rep. Emilia Sykes, who successfully amended the state transportation budget earlier this year to remove similar local hiring restriction language. “These opportunities change the future of not only a family but an entire community. I am disappointed that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle aren't interested in encouraging the American Dream in our urban cores.”

The City of Akron currently has a local hiring target of 30 percent for the city’s sewer and water improvements, with that goal increasing to 50 percent by 2018.

“Ohioans deserve a fair shot at good-paying local jobs because they have a stake in rebuilding the communities where they live and raise their family,” said Rep. Greta Johnson. “It seems as though the legislature is going out of its way to make decisions for local communities and give out of state contractors an advantage over Ohioans.”

Ohio law provides local communities can dedicate a percentage of public construction projects to employing local workers.

Groups that spoke out against the local hiring ban include the City of Cleveland, Greater Cleveland Partnership, City of Youngstown, City of Lima, City of Dayton, City of Columbus, AFSCME, Akron Summit County Community Action Inc., and the City of Akron.

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